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Assembling Japan

Modernity, Technology and Global Culture

Edited By Griseldis Kirsch, Dolores P. Martinez and Merry White

Assembling Japan focuses on Japan’s modernization as a long-term process that is reliant on changing technology and that has led to the nation’s full engagement with the global system. This process forms a complex field of tensions, full of interesting dynamisms and synergies that can be best understood through the book’s methodology: anthropological analysis combined with historical contextualization.
The approaches in this collection are manifold. Some chapters examine the themes of modernity, technology and Japan’s global experience though popular culture, from reggae to football, from television to film. Other topics include coffee, travel, economics, cultural politics and technological innovation in the field of robotics. All of the contributions aim to show how these global interactions have occurred and continue to take place in twenty-first-century Japan.
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Japanese Reggae and the Def Tech Phenomenon: Global Paths to Intra-cultural Pluralism

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Introduction

This chapter sets out to demonstrate how youth communities of both reggae and Def Tech artists and fans seek to transform their sense of whom and what their society can potentially include and represent. More specifically, it will focus on how both fringe and mainstream artists and fan communities attempt to diversify the concepts, ideas and images through which Japanese cultural membership is imagined and legitimized. I will argue that the people within this study are agents attempting to transform the perceived symbolic structure of their societies. Given the specificity and focus of their agency I will describe these individuals as active change seekers. Unlike some of their generational counterparts (hikikomori [those avoiding social contact] or otaku [obsessive hobbyists] to name two such groups), who are often portrayed as victims of social isolation and/or passive agents of change, I see these fans as attempting to change their society in order that it might more broadly represent what they perceive to be their legitimate and morally justifiable values and concerns. For the people I describe, their sense of isolation leads to a need to connect and transform key symbolic bases of their society.

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